Manipulation of sports competitions is today widely regarded as one of the major threats facing contemporary sport. Such tweaking is a global threat to the integrity of sport that requires a worldwide response.
As part of such response, the Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions, commonly referred to as the Macolin Convention, entered into force on September 1, 2019.
Such legal instruct is the only rule of international law on the manipulation of sports competitions. Its intrinsic features require public authorities to co-operate with sports organisations, betting operators and competition organisers to prevent, detect and sanction the manipulation of sports competitions.
The Convention proposes a common legal framework for an efficient international cooperation to respond to such global threat.
One of the aims of the convention is to facilitate the promotion of national and international co-operation against manipulation of sports competitions between the public authorities concerned, as well as with organisations involved in sports and in sports betting.
Such co-operation is done through what is known as the Network of National Platforms, commonly referred to as the Group of Copenhagen. Such group was established by the Council of Europe in 2016 as a framework for exchange of information, experience and expertise and is overseen by the Secretariat of the Council of Europe.
Each state has the opportunity to set up their own respective National Platform which serve as a strategic mechanism to bring together all relevant national stakeholders to work together in support of the implementation of the standards contained in the Convention.
Such national platforms together form part of such group which would liaise between themselves and the secretariat on various issues concerning the manipulation of sports competitions.
The group facilitates enhanced relations between key partners, exchanging experiences and good practices, improving the efficiency and functioning of the national platforms and connecting them transnationally. At the same time it lays down the foundations for transnational cooperation enabling the exchange of information, experiences and expertise which are all essential to the fight against the manipulation of sports competitions. To date there are 33 co-ordinators within such group.
As stipulated by the Convention, each national platform must address manipulation of sports competitions in accordance with national law such as data protection rules, taking into account existing structures and the distribution of national administrative functions.
Generally, they are responsible for the co-ordination of the fight against the manipulation of sports competitions at national level.
The national platforms must seek to co-operate with all organisations and relevant authorities, receive, centralise and analyse information on irregular and suspicious betting related to sports competitions taking place in their respective territory as well as, where appropriate, issue alerts and transmit relevant information in connection with manipulation of sports competitions.
Besides ensuring that all key domestic stakeholders such as the police, judiciary and the gaming authority are involved in such national platform to co-ordinate its policies and action, the national platform should ideally also encourage sports organisations, competition organisers and sports betting operators to cooperate with them.
At the same time, national platforms should provide other existing groups practical support to consolidate and further improve their respective systems, as well as provide assistance to countries who are in the process of creating their own platforms.
When a National Platform has been set up, or is in the process of being set up, there are three core guidelines which should be followed; the national strategy, coordinating and implementing.
Such guidelines must also take into account the national priorities of the country where such platform is located or will be located.
The National Platform also plays a crucial role in the implementation of the Macolin Convention within the framework of national polices and strategies of the respective domestic law. It must be said that it is not necessary for a member state to have signed or ratified the convention in order to have its National Platform form part of the Group of Copenhagen.
Each and every one of the national platforms plays a crucial role in ensuring that the threat posed to manipulation of sports competitions is contained as much as possible with the necessary safeguarding measures put in place.
At the same time, it also plays a pivotal role that should such a case arise, the necessary information and alerts are sent out in real time for further action to be taken as deemed necessary.
Whilst manipulation of sports competitions will not disappear overnight, having the necessary institutions, laws and supporting personnel in place will help strengthen the fight against manipulation of sports competition.